We’ve all heard about personality disorders, but what do they actually mean and how many different types are there?

What is a personality disorder?

We all have our own unique way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and reacting. This all goes into making up our personality. A personality disorder is an ailment that affects these very things that make us into the people that we are.

Personality disorders, therefore, affect our way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and reacting. They can cause problems with day-to-day life and have long-term effects.

They affect our relationships with significant others such as family and friends, and we might find it difficult to maintain employment.

The symptoms of personality disorders

It is generally accepted that you could be diagnosed with a personality disorder if you display all three of the following:

  1. Your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours cause you or others significant problems in daily life.
  2. Your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours cause significant problems across different aspects of your life.
  3. These problems have continued for a long time.

Types of personality disorders

There are ten different types of personality disorders which can be grouped into three broad clusters – A, B, or C:

Cluster A

  1. Paranoid personality disorder
  2. Schizoid personality disorder
  3. Schizotypal personality disorder

Anyone displaying a Cluster A personality disorder would be suspicious about others and show odd and eccentric behaviour bordering on paranoia.

Cluster B

  1. Antisocial personality disorder
  2. Borderline personality disorder
  3. Histrionic personality disorder
  4. Narcissistic personality disorder

Those displaying a Cluster B personality disorder would have problems relating to others and would come across as dramatic, impulsive, erratic, and threatening in their behaviour.

Cluster C

  1. Avoidant personality disorder
  2. Dependent personality disorder
  3. Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder

Anyone who has been diagnosed with a Cluster C personality disorder is afraid of relationships and shows fear and anxiety around people. They may also become withdrawn from society.

Different Types of Personality Disorders


Paranoid Personality Disorder

Those with paranoid personality disorder find it extremely difficult to trust people. They also:

  • Think that people are lying to them
  • Worry that confidential information is being used against them
  • Believe they are being watched
  • Think there are hidden messages in innocent communications
  • Look for betrayal and signs of manipulation
Schizoid Personality Disorder

Those with schizoid personality disorder may come across as cold and detached. They also:

  • Are uninterested in forming close relationships with people
  • Have little desire to form relationships
  • Have limited ability to experience pleasure or joy
  • Prefer to be alone
  • Are uninterested in praise or criticism
Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Those with schizotypal personality disorder will have poor social skills and behave in an odd way, experiencing delusional thoughts. They also:

  • Attach undue significance to everyday events, believing they are receiving secret messages
  • Express themselves in an odd manner that others find eccentric
  • Believe that they have special powers such as reading people’s minds
  • Have very unusual ways of talking and often go off the subject
  • Feel extreme anxiety in social situations


Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

Those with antisocial personalities often intimidate others and are seen as bullies. They also:

  • Show a lack of concern about their actions
  • Put themselves in risky or illegal situations
  • Behave in a dangerous way without considering the consequences
  • Show no guilt or remorse for their actions
  • Are easily bored and act on impulse
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Those with borderline personality disorder worry about abandonment and work hard to stop that from happening. They also:

  • Are dramatic emotionally and can be up one minute and rock bottom the next
  • Be fickle about their own sense of self
  • Find it hard to maintain relationships
  • Act on impulse and do things in excess
Histrionic Personality Disorder

Those with the histrionic disorder have to be the centre of attention at all times. They also:

  • Think that they have to entertain all the time
  • Feel that they are the life and soul of the party
  • Are dramatic and over the top all the time
  • Need constant approval from others
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

These people believe they are the special ones and that normal rules do not apply. They also:

  • Think that they deserve more than others
  • Have delicate self-esteem
  • Feel resentment if they are not recognised
  • Resent other people’s successes
  • Put their own needs above other people


Avoidant (or anxious) Personality Disorder

People with avoidant personality disorder tend to avoid any social activity including work that involves interacting with other people. They also:

  • Avoid any kind of social activity
  • Expect to be ‘caught out’ and embarrassed
  • Worry about being rejected by their peers
  • Feel lonely and isolated from others
Dependent Personality Disorder

People with this disorder tend to feel weak and needy with a dispensation to be unable to function without the aid of others. They also:

  • Prefer for others to take control in important areas of their lives
  • Have low self-esteem and are seen as passive by others
  • Agree to decisions that are not in their interests
  • Regard others are more capable than themselves
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder have to keep everything in order and keep strict control over their lives. They also:

  • Feel anxious when things are out of control
  • Expect something awful to happen if they are not in control
  • Are hoarders who cannot let go of things
  • Set very high standards for themselves

Personality disorder treatments

Depending on what type of personality disorder a person is suffering from, different therapies and treatments would be suggested.

  • Psychological – whereby a person discusses their thoughts with a trained professional.
  • Psychodynamic – Looking back into early childhood traumas.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – Changing the way we think about our behaviour in order to change our actions.
  • Interpersonal Therapy – Looking at how our relationships affect our mental health.
  • Medication – Some severe forms of disorders can be greatly alleviated with the proper medication.


  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov
  2. http://www.nhs.uk

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